Hypoglycemia | Ask the doctor

    What is the impact of hypoglycemia on the elderly?

    Recurrent severe hypoglycemia may lead to the development of brain degeneration with mood disorders and problems in concentrating in the elderly. Hypoglycemia also has a negative impact on the heart and may exacerbate myocardial ischemia. Hypoglycemia can lead to injuries, falls with fractures, and traffic accidents. Severe hypoglycemia is a complication with psychological and social consequences for the patients and their families

    What are the causes of hypoglycemia in the elderly without diabetes?

    Hypoglycemia in people without diabetes is much less common. Causes can include, taking someone else’s oral diabetes medication accidentally, Excessive alcohol drinking, Some illnesses like hepatitis or cirrhosis, severe infection, kidney disease, advanced heart disease,  malnutrition and starvation when you don’t get enough food.

    What is hypoglycemia unawareness?

    Repeated episodes of hypoglycemia can lead to hypoglycemia unawareness. The body and brain no longer produce signs and symptoms that warn of low blood sugar, such as shakiness or irregular heartbeats (palpitations). When this happens, the risk of severe, life-threatening hypoglycemia increases. If you are taking diabetes medicines and have recurring episodes of hypoglycemia and hypoglycemia unawareness, your doctor might modify your treatment and ask for continuous glucose monitoring at home.

    What is undertreated diabetes?

    Fear of hypoglycemia can cause you to take fewer medicines or insulin to ensure that your blood sugar level doesn’t go too low. This can lead to uncontrolled diabetes. Talk to your doctor about your fear, and don’t change your diabetes medication dose without discussing changes with your doctor.

    How can I prevent hypoglycemia?

    Continuously monitor your glucose. Follow the diabetes management plan you and your doctor have advised. If you’re taking new medications, changing your eating or medication schedules, or adding new exercise, talk to your doctor about how these changes might affect your diabetes management and your risk of low blood sugar.

    Learn about the signs and symptoms you experience with low blood sugar. This can help you identify and treat hypoglycemia before it gets too low.

    Always have fast-acting sugar with you, such as juice, hard candy or glucose tablets so that you can treat a falling blood sugar level before it dips dangerously low.

    When should I see a doctor?

    When you have recurrent hypoglycemia and you don’t have diabetes.

    When you have diabetes and hypoglycemia isn’t responding to treatment, such as drinking juice, eating candy, or taking glucose tablets.

    Seek emergency help for someone with diabetes or a history of hypoglycemia who has symptoms of severe hypoglycemia or loses consciousness.

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